Sarah Burton’s Pre-Fall 2020 collection for Alexander McQueen takes inspiration from Britain’s Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements
A beautiful new collection from Alexander McQueen – released via a digital lookbook and accompanying film today – sees creative director Sarah Burton draw on Britain’s Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements of the mid- to late-19th century. The house’s Pre-Fall 2020 offering, it follows a slew of collections from Alexander McQueen that have honed in on the history, landscapes and traditions of the UK – for her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection, presented earlier this year, Burton looked to Wales, referencing the Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt, an 1842 textile in Cardiff depicting scenes from Welsh history, the Welsh daffodil and the poet Dylan Thomas, whose voice provided the soundtrack.
This time, Burton looks northwards towards “the windswept earth and Northern landscapes laid bare”, as the notes describe, melding the floral symbols of modernism – the iris, the thistle and the Glasgow Rose, most often related to Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh – with nods to the colours and textures of geology, from gold, silver and copper to crystal, agate and flint. “The core of the earth and the treasures hidden beneath its surface,” the house describes. “The juxtaposition between sobriety and seduction, the raw and the refined, the textured and the smooth, the light and the dark, all contrasts true to the handwriting of the house of Alexander McQueen.”
The collection itself – photographed amid the brooding English countryside – sees Burton astutely play out these juxtapositions. Severe outerwear, darted at the waist, in Donegal tweed or trompe l’oeil leather, is contrasted with cocooning Aran-knit sweaters, elongated camel-knit cardigans, and ruffled feminine silk gowns. A closing selection of looks encompass the gilded appeal of Art Nouveau – a gold moiré jacket and cigarette trousers, dresses dotted with floral sequins and gemstone cabachons, and column gowns in shades of amethyst, pink and carnelian red – while accessories riff on the “beauty of mined stones”, from colourful sculpted resin heels to pavé multi-hoop earrings, giant agate pendants and polished metal chokers.